Tasmanian News

B strain hits north


Another public health response is underway following northern Tasmania's first case of meningococcal disease for the year.

Tasmania's ninth infection for 2018 is a 15-year-old Launceston boy who's come down with the B strain - he's currently stable in the LGH.

It's not related to a recent meningococcal B case in East Devonport.

Authorities say Tasmania's B infection rate is in line with interstate and has nothing to do with an outbreak of meningococcal W in Hobart's north earlier this year.

There are no plans to offer a free Meningococcal B vaccination at this stage. 

"Meningococcal B vaccine is available on private prescription from your GP," said Dr Faline Howes, Communicable Diseases Clinical Director, Public Health Services. 

"A meningococcal ACWY immunisation program is being delivered statewide. Under this program, all Tasmanians born after 1 August 1997 and at least six weeks old are eligible for a free meningococcal vaccination covering the strains ACWY."

"All Tasmanians within this age bracket who have not yet received the free vaccine are strongly advised to get one over the next four to six weeks," said Dr Howes. 

Meningococcal disease is rare but serious – on average Tasmania has about six cases a year.

Cases of meningococcal disease are more common during winter and spring, but can occur at any time in any place and affect people of any age.

The symptoms of meningococcal disease can include fever, severe headache, confusion, severe muscle pain, and rash. People who contract meningococcal disease typically progress from feeling well to feeling extremely unwell very quickly.

Babies and infants may not have these symptoms but can be unsettled or drowsy, pale or blotchy, floppy and not feeding.

If you suspect you or someone you care for may have contracted meningococcal disease, seek emergency medical care immediately.